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Gaylord Palms transforms meeting hall into a winter wonderland

Sydney Peters

Sydney Peters

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During the month of Dec. the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla. is covered in over two million bright lights and acres of holiday decorations. All 400,000 square feet of the Gaylord’s convention center is decorated and transformed into holiday activities that people from all over Fla. come to experience.

“Christmas around the World” is this year’s theme for the holiday attractions. ICE is the most popular Christmas event held in the hotel. For the ICE exhibit, Guests walk through rooms filled with over two million pounds of colored ice sculptures.

The ice used in the exhibit comes all the way from Harbin, China where temperatures are below freezing. The ice factories shape the ice into sheets, package the sheets, and ship them straight to Orlando. A few of the Harbin artisans also travel to Gaylord Palms to sculpt the ice themselves.

The preparation for the attraction takes weeks from both hotel staff and the ice sculptors. Another one of the main events is The Frostbite Factory, a station where guests can watch one of the artisans sculpt the ice live. Also, a fan favorite is the two-story high slide completely made out of ice.

To complete the ICE attraction, the end display is a beautifully carved nativity scene made of crystal ice. According to the artisans, the clear ice is the most difficult to make. A special type of water is used that has been de-ionized; it takes up to three days to freeze. This is what gives the ice the glassy, crystal effect.

“We don’t ever get to experience super cold weather in Florida. My favorite part of being at the Gaylord was how cold the ICE exhibit it was inside,” junior, Courtney Wilt said.

In order to keep the ice from melting, the temperature of the exhibit is kept at nine degrees. For this reason, guests are given special-made, big blue jackets to wear while walking through ICE. It is so cold inside regular water freezes almost immediately; this is used as the glue to connect the ice sculptures together. For this reason, guests are not allowed to touch or lick the ice.

The hard work, detail and creativity put into this attraction is the reason why it has become a holiday must-do for Fla. residents.

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Gaylord Palms transforms meeting hall into a winter wonderland